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 Elevator Pitch or A Girl's Revenge

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PostSubject: Elevator Pitch or A Girl's Revenge   Tue Sep 01, 2015 9:20 am

Time for a new challenge, and we have a choice this month.  As some writers have expressed concern that the elebvator pitch is too prescriptive for them, and is stifling their ideas, so you can either write to the pitch we have voted or, or write to the looser, broader prompt.  Either way, it will be an interesting experiment, so without further ado I will remind you of the winning pitch:

A down and out girl cleaning in a saloon recognize Heyes and Curry when they come in and remembers that it was because of them robbing her father's bank, that she is where she is today. Her father committed suicide after the robbery under the stress and she was left to fend for herself. Now she wants her revenge, will do anything to get it, and decides to try to come in between Heyes and Curry, hopefully making one shoot the other, because it would be easier for her to turn them in for the reward.      




 Or (if that doesn't float your boat) you can write to the broader prompt


A girl's revenge 


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PostSubject: Re: Elevator Pitch or A Girl's Revenge   Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:11 pm

Since my story won last month, I decided to give a sneak preview of my up coming chapter.  It timed out rather well, having this month's challenge fit quite nicely to something I had already just written. The adult version can be found on the links on my next chapter when it's published.




Out on their patio the couple laughed and played together as they brushed wet sand off of their calf's and ankles, and in between their toes. That done they moved into their suite and while Hannibal poured water into the wash basin for shaving, Miranda slipped into their own private lavatory to complete her own toiletry.
 
 
“Hannibal?” Miranda called to him from the other room. “Shall we order breakfast to be brought here, or do you want to go down to the restaurant?”
 
 
“Let's go down to the restaurant,” Heyes suggested as he scraped away under his chin, and then added in a mumble more to himself than his wife. “If we have it here it'll never get eaten.  We'll go to the restaurant.”
 
 
“Okay. How do I look?”
 
 
Miranda twirled herself into the room and sent her husband a playfully seductive look. She had tied her long dark hair up into a bouncing pony tail and had stuck one of those floral hair pins onto the side of her locks to add even more colour to her attire. She had also released the hem of her colourful skirt so that it floated gracefully down around her ankles with every step she took.
 
 
Heyes smiled and wiped his face clean from excess shaving cream.
 
 
“You look like a bowl full of fruit,” he commented, then quickly added to avoid the rising assault; “but fruit that I could spend the rest of the morning eating my fill of.”
 
 
He moved in to reach for her waist, but she playfully jumped away from him.
 
 
“Oh no you don't!” she laughed at him. “You might be able to get by on 'fruit' for breakfast, but I need food! C'mon, let's go.”
 
 
She opened the inside door to the hallway just as Hannibal held out a hand to stop her.
 
 
“No wait!” he told her. “Haven't you forgotten something?”
 
 
Miranda looked confused for a moment. “What?” Then enlightenment dawned and her eyes lit up as she ran back into the suite. “You're right! My sandals!” She stooped over by the bed, grabbed her sandals and quickly slipped them on. “Can't go to breakfast in bare feet!”
 
 
“No not that!” Heyes protested as he quickly slipped on his own sandals.
 
 
Miranda turned back to face him. “What then?”
 
 
Heyes lowered his voice. “The way you're dressed,” he reminded her. “You're not....decent.”
 
 
Miranda looked insulted. “Not decent!?”
 
 
“Miranda you're not wearing any.....any undergarments.”
 
 
She smiled at him deliciously, a Hannibal Heyes twinkle in her eye. “I know. Isn't it naughty?” and with a laugh, she turned and ran down the hallway.
 
 
Heyes stood at their door, his mouth gaping and a groan coming to his lips. “Oh, you wicked woman.”
 
 
Xxx
 
 
The hotel restaurant was open and airy for the breakfast crowd, not that it was very crowded now, most of the other guests having already broken their fast. The morning was heating up with every passing moment, but with the verandas all open to the sea breeze, it was still quite comfortable to sit and enjoy the morning break.
 
 
That is until the host approached the couple, and Heyes moved in to stand a little ahead of his wife, in an attempt to hide her 'nakedness' from prying eyes. He was feeling protective and territorial, so wouldn't hesitate to throw the first punch if any of the other men in the vicinity gave him reason.
 
 
The host simply smiled and escorted the couple to their table. He had stopped trying to understand Gringos years ago. Many of them behaved in this strange manner, especially where their women were concerned. He ignored it.
 
 
Heyes followed behind the host, his arm wrapped around his wife's waist to let it be known that she was his female, and the other males better not even think about moving in on him.
 
 
“Hannibal, don't be so silly,” Miranda reprimanded him. “Nobody's looking at us—unless it's to wonder at your odd behaviour. Nobody can tell.”
 
 
“Of course they can tell,” Heyes whispered in her ear. “How can they not tell? I can tell! Everything is loose and...bouncy.”
 
 
“You can tell only because you know I'm...naked underneath.”
 
 
“Shhh!” Heyes was at his wits end and he wondered how he was going to get through breakfast when he himself was anything but loose and bouncy. And he'd thought that coming to the restaurant for breakfast would be safer! “Sit down and stay sitting down.”
 
 
“Yes sir,” she teased him shamelessly.
 
 
“Here are your menus, Senor and Senora,” their host stated casually. “Shall I bring you coffee to start?”
 
 
“Yes please,” Heyes agreed. “Lots of coffee.”
 
 
“Si, Senor,”
 
 
“Oh my,” Miranda sat back and fanned herself with the menu. “No wonder the women here don't wear corsets. They'd suffocate. Aren't you getting warm Hannibal?”
 
 
“Yes,” Heyes stated pointedly. “You're doing this on purpose, because of last night.”
 
 
“Of course I am,” she admitted, sumptuously. “You were enjoying that woman's company far too much.” And unbuttoning the top two buttons of her light blouse, she leaned forward to give her husband an unobstructed view.
 
 
Heyes' eyes instantly went there. He sighed deeply, the breath suddenly gone from his lungs.
 
 
“Yes, well...” he whispered as he drank in the view. “She is an attractive woman.”
 
 
“Funny,” Miranda commented as she straightened up again. “I found her to be decidedly annoying.”
 
 
Heyes blinked as though coming out of a trance and forced his gaze to come up and look into his wife's eyes instead. She smiled at him, and he couldn't help but chuckle, and the chuckle grew into an outright laugh. He reached over, and taking her hand he lifted it to his lips and kissed it.
 
 
“I love you,” he whispered to her. “But you are an evil woman.”
 
 
Coffee arrived, and the couple sat back to receive the brown elixir of life. The waiter smiled discreetly, took their breakfast orders and retreated. Silence ensued as they each prepared their drinks to their tastes and took a first sip.
 
 
Miranda licked her moistened lips and smiled softly at her husband. Heyes' brow went up. She wasn't done yet.  She was going to make him pay.
 
 
“I'm evil, am I?” she asked him, taking another sip of coffee. “With all the dalliances you've had in your lifetime? Maybe we need to compare notes.”
 
 
“Oh,” Heyes smirked playfully as he rose to the bait. “I'd only make you jealous.”
 
 
“Really? I'm intrigued,” Randi leaned forward, her breasts threatening to fall out of her partially opened blouse. “Why don't we begin with Mrs. Carruthers? Obviously you two have history.”
 
 
Heyes bit into his lip, his eyes once again drawn to below his wife's neck line. He did a quick scan of their immediate area and was relieved to note that no one was watching them. Indeed, their table was situation in the back, beside a large pillar so they had as much privacy as could be expected in a public restaurant. Heyes wondered briefly if his wife had somehow arranged this.
 
 
“No,” he answered her. “Nothing like that.”
 
 
“Oh come, Hannibal! The way you two were flirting?”
 
 
“We weren't flirting,” he insisted. “And besides, you seemed to be having a good evening yourself.”
 
 
She smiled.
 
 
“Yes. Senor Cordoba is an extremely handsome man. And since you were preoccupied...”
 
 
Heyes sighed.
 
 
“Nothing happened between us,” Heyes repeated. “We were on the same coach from Yuma, and she was a pleasant distraction for the trip. I had other things on my mind, if you recall. I continued to court her attention in Santa Marta because I had begun to suspect her motives. Turns out, I was right.”
 
 
“Well, that was boring,” Randa pouted. “Come on, tell me of some of your exploits. What about when you and Jed were still outlaws? You must have had some interesting encounters then...”
 
 
“Randa, this is hardly the time and place...”
 
 
Miranda shrugged.
 
 
“Interesting conversation over breakfast,” she stated. “What's wrong with that?”
 
 
Breakfast arrived. The waiter placed the laden plates in front of them and again, discreetly removed himself from the conversation.
 
 
 “Randa!” Heyes just about choked on his first mouthful. “What's gotten into you?”
 
 
“You,” she stated bluntly, then smiled sweetly. “We're in Mexico, it's our honeymoon. A wife has a right to know.”
 
 
Heyes swallowed. He sat back in his chair, took a sip of coffee and smiled at his love over the lip of his cup.
 
 
“Alright,” he agreed as he sat forward again and dug into his breakfast. “If you really want to know.”
 
 
Miranda nodded playfully. “Yes.”
 
 
“Okay. The first woman I...enjoyed...a meal with...was a prostitute named Lindy. I was sixteen. She was my first.”
 
 
“How sweet,” Randa commented. “A prostitute.”
 
 
Heyes sent her a look.
 
 
“Kind of hard to have a real relationship when you're drifting,” he reminded her. “I had a steady girlfriend or two while at Silky's place.”
 
 
“Or two?” she teased. “He allowed that?”
 
 
“No,” Heyes admitted and then smiled. “I'd sneak out at night and meet her down at the docks. “Often Jed came with me. He was a natural. He usually had more than one girl lining up for their turn.” he chuckled with reminiscence. “Actually, often they didn't bother to line up and we both had more than one to deal with at a time. That was interesting. Those girls from the wrong side of the tracks sure didn't have any inhibitions.”
 
 
“Really?” Miranda's brows went up. “You mean, you and Jed would have a group? All in one room?”
 
 
“Well,” Heyes shrugged. “It's not like we were all in the same hay pile. Believe me, we both had our own hands so full, we didn't have time to pay attention to what the other one was doing.”
 
 
“And your regular girlfriend didn't mind this?”
 
 
Heyes snorted. “Mind? They were her friends! She's the one who brought them.”
 
 
“My, my.” Miranda squirmed slightly as she tried to eat her breakfast.
 
 
Heyes grinned at her discomfort.
 
 
“It seems her friends didn't believe her when she told them of my attributes,” he bragged. “She had to bring them along so they could experience it for themselves.”
 
 
Miranda laughed, and almost snorted her coffee.  “And Jed had his own little harem, as well?”
 
 
Heyes nodded. “Uh huh.” He became thoughtful. “After that, let's see...things kind of dried up for a while. I was on the move, just barely scraping out a living. When I had enough money, I'd indulge, but it wasn't very often. No, it wasn't until after I got in with a gang and had a bit more stability, that I was getting anything regular. Yeah. After we'd make a big haul, Plummer would set us, and we'd really go to town. I tell you, those lovely ladies gave a whole new meaning to swinging from the chandeliers. “
 
 
Miranda's eyes bulged, and this time, she did snort her coffee. Heyes grinned wickedly.
 
 
“Oh my goodness!” Randa whispered. 


 
“Now, where was I? Oh yes, swinging from the chandeliers. Those were fun days.”
 
 
“Did you ever bring ladies up to your hideout?” Miranda asked, once she'd gotten herself composed.
 
 
“Yup,” Heyes nodded. “Sometimes Frank Plummer would bring up the whole lot of them. Of course, we each had our favourites. Yeah. I remember this one little girl, her name was Gilda. Wow, was she flexible.”
 
 
“Really?” Miranda asked, her eyes alight with her own imagination. “What did you do?”
 
 
Heyes picked up one of his sausages, and stabbing it into the yoke of an egg, he stirred it around before lifting the dripping end and slowly licking the yellow off the piece of meat. He smiled as his wife wiggled in anticipation, and then stuffed the whole thing into his mouth and began to chew.
 
 
“Everything,” he mumbled with a lustful sigh.
 
 
Miranda forked one of her own sausages and began to nibble on it, as her eyes pleaded with her husband to continue.
 
 
“We even had fun on horseback once...or was that twice?”
 
 
“Oh come on!” Miranda challenged him. “On horseback?”
 
 
Heyes shrugged.
 
 
“We found a way,” he said. “It was getting a little too crowded in the bunkhouse. We checked all the other out buildings, even the outhouse, but other fellas had beat me to them. Even the barn was busy. I saddled up my horse, thinking we could ride out to a quiet spot and have some time in private. Couldn't have been more than twenty minutes from the hideout, and Gilda decided she didn't want to wait any longer.” 
 


Miranda sat mesmerized, her eggs going cold as the rest of her heated up. Heyes leaned forward, his eyes glistening with excitement.
 
 
“I didn't care if I hurt her, you see. Well, cause, I wasn't the gentleman then, that I am now.”
 
 
Miranda was grasping the sides of the table by this time, her breath coming in shallow gasps. Her eyes were wide with embarrassment as she began to squirm.
 
 
Heyes sat back and smiled.
 
 
“Something wrong, Darlin'?”
 
 
“Oh my...”
  
 
“Hmm,” Heyes commented as he took a sip of coffee. “Anyway, that's pretty much the highlight. We still partook of prostitutes at Devil's Hole, but Jim never allowed women up to the hideout. So...” he shrugged. “Then it was Abi, and you already know that story.”
 
 
Miranda took a deep breath, as everything settled again.
 
 
“Oh my goodness,” she said. “Where is that waiter? I think I need more coffee.”
 
 
Heyes looked around, and catching the waiter's eye, held up his coffee cup.
 
 
“Si, Senor,” the waiter smiled, ready to be of service. “More coffee for you?”
 
 
“Please,” said Heyes. “For both of us.”
 
 
“Of course.” The waiter collected up the empty plates and departed, but was soon back with the coffee pot. “I hope you enjoyed your breakfast, Senor.”
 
 
“Best I've had in a long time,” Heyes agreed.
 
 
“Senora?”
 
 
“Amazingly good,” Miranda informed him, and began to laugh.
 
 
The waiter smiled as he poured their coffees, not sure what was meant by that. When in doubt, especially with these Gringos, simply nod and retreat. And he did.
 
 
Miranda took a deep, satisfying drink from her coffee, and her nerves began to settle down.
 
 
“You made that up,” she accused him, her previous playful mood returning. “I don't believe a single word. You'd hurt yourself, doing that!”
 
 
“What can I tell you? We were young.”
 
 
Miranda still looked skeptical.
 
 
“Fine, if you insist,” she relented. “So, then there was Abi.”
 
 
“Yes.”
 
 
“And Allie.”
 
 
“No. I told you. Nothing ever happened between me and Allie,” Heyes insisted. “She was too young.”
 
 
“Oh, and your little trollop in San Francisco wasn't?”
 
 
“That was different.”
 
 
“How?”
 
 
Heyes sighed. “Semantics,” he clarified. “Allie was too young, emotionally. Deanna was...very mature.”
 
 
“So, you mean to tell me, that after you became this infamous, handsome and romantic outlaw, the only women you could get to lay with you were prostitutes?”
 
 
“No!” Heyes was insulted.
 
 
Miranda looked the enquiry as she nibbled on her toast.
 
 
Heyes' expression turned inwards, and he smiled with fond recollection.
 
 
“Well, there was Julia,” he said. “She was sweet. We started out under the boughs of a big old tree, but we ended up inside a cave, with the sound of water dripping all around us. It was chilly in there, and damp. Bunch of dead Indians all over the place. But, ohh that proper English lady knew how to heat things up.
 
 
“Now Grace, she was kind of a cold fish, and it was more part of a job, than anything more.” He grinned, and his dimples dug in deep. “Ahh Leslie! What a firecracker. That water tower creaked and groaned, but it stayed up. Yeah. The hardest part was climbing down afterwards. Then of course, there was Amy. Ah, not the Amy you know. No. This one was a brunette. She was a school teacher. Now her I could have settled down with for awhile, but as it was...” he shrugged. 
 


“Oh come on!” Miranda was doubly skeptical now. “You're making all this up.”
 
 
“Nope,” Heyes insisted. “Why, all those lovely ladies couldn't wait to show me their virtues. See how blessed you are?”
 
 
Miranda snorkeled.
 
 
“Oh, I almost forgot about Blanche,” Heyes continued, enjoying the roll he was on. “She was interesting, and a little bit dangerous.”
 
 
“Really.” Miranda cocked a cynical brow. “And what made Blanche so dangerous?”
 
 
“She'd murdered her husband,” Heyes explained. “Cleaned out the estate and disappeared down here, into Mexico. The authorities knew she had done it, and when they eventually found out where she was, they hired us to entice her back across the border.” He shrugged. “I had to get her to trust me, or at least to think that I trusted her.”
 
 
“So this woman, who had murdered her husband, and was safe and sound in Mexico, risked everything by coming back into the States—for you?”
 
 
“No, not exactly,” Heyes admitted. “It was dangling $20,000 under her nose that did it.”
 
 
Miranda's jaw dropped in surprise.
 
 
“You told her who you and Jed were?”
 
 
“Hmm, we hinted,” Heyes clarified. “We set the bait, and she grabbed at it.”
 
 
“So she actually followed you back up, across the border?”
 
 
“Yep.”
 
 
“Hmm,” Miranda sat back and frowned. “That wasn't very gentlemanly; bedding a woman in order to trap her.”
 
 
“She bedded me, in a sense, knowing her true intentions were to turn me in for the reward money,” Heyes pointed out. “I have no qualms about that. Besides, it gave us some real fond memories of that saloon she briefly owned.”
 
 
“What a ham!” she accused him. “Is there anything out there you haven't tried?”
 
 
“Well, yes,” Heyes admitted. “A couple of the fellas in prison had some suggestions, but I let them know I wasn't interested.”
 
 
Miranda frowned, her playfulness disappearing.
 
 
“Eww, really?” she asked. “I hadn't thought of that. But, I suppose, under the circumstances...”
 
 
She sighed deeply and partook of another calming drink of coffee.
 
 
“Yeah well,” Heyes continued, watching his wife, and timing his remark perfectly. “I like to trust the person holding onto my merchandise.”
 
 
Miranda was caught by surprise. She snorted, laughed, choked and then snorted again, as coffee squirted from her nose. She grabbed her napkin and quickly tried to stem the flow.
 
 
“You rat!” she exclaimed once she had her breath back. “You did that on purpose!”
 
 
“You were asking for it,” Heyes accused her, and then his dimples took over. “Besides, you always catch me flatfooted. It was time I got you back.”
 
 
The smile he got back from her was mischievous. Heyes sat back and bit into his lower lip in contemplation. He had a feeling this wasn't over yet.
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PostSubject: Re: Elevator Pitch or A Girl's Revenge   Mon Sep 28, 2015 7:52 pm

Autumn







Mattie Gold’s unremarkable features fell between the summer of attraction, and the winter of frailty.  It felt like a lifetime since she had played with her tresses in a mirror to find the most flattering coiffure, or sought out fabric in the most alluring colors.  She was a teacher; boring to all obvious appearances.  Never a beauty, but never a grotesque either; she was humdrum, mousey, staid, and practical; but today her mind was a bubble of activity today, especially since yesterday’s momentous events.  Mattie thrust the telegraph in her reticule with a sigh of relief.  It was time to go home and pack, she was clearly about to be thrown out of her accommodation.



oooOOOooo



The hotel clerk looked up from his register in surprise.  “Miss Gold?  How can I help you?”



“I wish to reserve three rooms.”  


The clerk smiled.  “You have guests visiting maybe?  Friends?  Relatives?”  His voice dropped to a shocked hush.  “A man?”



The school mistress’ eyes sharpened.  “Thomas Brownstone!  That is none of your business.  I wish to reserve three rooms.  That is all you need to know.”



“I need to know who they’re for, Miss,” Thomas fell back into his old reverence for his teacher and pointed at the notice on the wall.  “It’s the rules.”      



“Very well.  One of the rooms is for me.  I shall move in immediately.  The other two are for four men who will advise you of their names when they arrive.  They should arrive here tomorrow and they will be sharing.  Does that help?”



“Their names?”



“I have no idea at the moment.  Can you reserve the rooms or not?” 



“I suppose so.”  Thomas pushed the register over the desk.  “But you live at the schoolhouse.  Why do you want a room?”



“That is none of your business, young man.”  Mattie stabbed the pen back into its holder.  My bags are on Mr. Clarke’s wagon outside.  Have them brought up to my room.”



“There‘s the question of payment, Miss?”



“Tommy.  Where I am concerned there is never a question over meeting my obligations.  Now, do I pay in advance or when I check out?”



A large Adam’s apple slid up and down beneath the stiff paper collar slightly too large for the thin neck.  “The boss prefers before.”



“Then I shall pay now.”  She opened her bag and snapped open a little purse.  “How much?”



oooOOOooo



Mattie sat bolt upright on the chair with her hands folded in her lap, her chin raised defiantly against the onslaught of the angry man pacing up and down the hotel lounge.   “Where’s the money?  It ain’t in your room or your bags.  You hid it.  We’ve searched the lot.”



“I’m waiting for my lawyer to arrive to clear things up,” she reached out and grabbed at the bible they had discarded in their search before stuffing it into her bag along with her stockings and an embarrassingly expanding corset.  “I haven’t stolen a thing.”  



The man with the shaggy grey hair swiveled on his heel to face her.  “You cleared out the Education Committee account.  Where is it?”



Mattie’s nose rose a little higher.  “Mr. Sampson, you may run the church around here but you’re an uneducated buffoon.”  A smile played over her lips.  “I can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to tell you that at last.”



“Thief!”



She pursed her lips.  “You’re not the boss of me... anymore.”



“Where’s the money?” snarled the minister.  Do we have to search your person?”  



“If you lay one finger on me I’ll lay charges against you for assault.  I’m not hiding the money on me.  Get your wife to search me.” 


There was a knock on the door.  She stood and walked over to the door, palpable relief washing over her colorless features at the men standing on the threshold.  “Mr. Smith?  You came, just as you promised.” 



The dark man smiled, his brown eyes glittering with recognition.  “Of course, Miss Gold.  How are you doing?  You look a little flushed.”



“I’ve been better,” she threw a glance at the sheriff.  “Meet Mayor Toomey, Sheriff Peters, and Mr. Sampson.  They want to either throw me in jail or run me out of town.  They can’t quite decide.”



The fair man who followed behind made the sheriff turn and grab for his gun.  “It’s him!  That’s Kid Curry.  Hands up.  Ya gotta be dumb as a box of rocks to come back here.  He just escaped from my jail.”



“Put that down,” an older man commanded as he brought up the rear.  A star glittered on his waistcoat, backing up the steely glare.  “I’m Sheriff Lom Trevors and I have papers from the Governor of Wyoming to prove that this man isn’t wanted.  He was granted amnesty.  You had no right to lock him up.”  



A serious young man closed the door to the hotel lounge behind them and stood protectively beside the schoolteacher.  “Chester Brubaker, Attorney at law.  My client called me here to assist with some charges you have laid against her.” 



“Forget about a pilfering schoolteacher,” barked the sheriff.  “That’s Kid Curry.”



“Yes, he is,” Brubaker nodded.  “But as these papers show, he’s not wanted anywhere.  The statute of limitations has run out on all charges and the only state which offers no such limitation has declared an amnesty for both Kid Curry and Hannibal Heyes.  See for yourself.  They are no longer wanted men.”



The mayor peered at the papers glancing up at the lawyer from time to time, before shuffling the pages and handing them back.  “They seem to be in order,” he muttered reluctantly.



Hannibal Heyes and Brubaker shared an amused look at the obvious confusion in the man’s eyes.  “You’re sure, Mayor Toomey?  I don’t want you to make any rash decisions.  I want us to agree before I move onto her case.”



“How does a man like Kid Curry get amnesty?” barked the sheriff, holstering his gun.  “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”



“Not as dumb as a corrupt lawman dumping the woman who’s got the goods on him,” purred Heyes.  “That’s about as smart as catfish bait.”



“Yup,” the Kid agreed, “Any dumber and he’d have to be watered twice a week.”



“Huh?” blinked the lawman.



“You had a long standing understanding with Miss Gold, didn’t ya?” The Kid narrowed his eyes.  “You made her all kinds of promises, but then you dropped her like a hot coal when it looked like you were in the money.  That ain’t very gentlemanly.”



“So?  You used to stick a gun in folks faces and hold ‘em up.  I ain’t takin’ no eti...ket lessons from a gunman.”                                       



 “You never had any etiquette lessons from anyone, Harold.  That’s the problem,” murmured Mattie, “along with too many other things to list.”  



“You stole the town’s money.  You got no room to talk down to anyone, Mattie.”



“I have been lied to and used.”



Heyes laid a hand on her shoulder.  “Don’t get involved, Miss Gold.  Some people just want to justify treating you badly.”



Brubaker cut in.  “You are accusing my client of theft.  Can you be clear about the charges?”



“She stole the school committee money,” barked Sampson.  “I want it back or she’ll do hard labor.”



“Stole?”  Brubaker turned Mattie.  “You told me that you simply closed out your account.”



“I did,” she nodded.  “Although I didn’t know there was an account in my name until Mr. Smith here informed me of the fact.  I met him in the street after I left the jail house on Thursday.  He was very kind and he offered me some comfort.”



“Comfort?”  Sheriff Peters scowled.  “You and me argue and you run straight into the arms of another man?  I was right ta dump ya.”



The clergyman’s eyes narrowed.  “As a female teacher you are not allowed gentlemen callers.  If I’d known about this...”



“Well, you didn’t,” sniped Mattie.  “Harold, I mean, Sheriff Peters, and I have had an understanding for the last eight years.  He’d been visiting me, and...,”she gulped hard, “he made me promises, otherwise I would never have allowed him to take the liberties he did.  I was desperately upset when I ran out of the jailhouse that night.  I felt used and abused.  Mr. Smith was a knight in shining armor.”  



“Well, that’s real kind of you,” Heyes piped up.  “I was in town on business.”  The hard stare Lom Trevors was giving the dark-haired man was lost on most of the men in the room as Heyes continued.  He gave his lawyer a smile of appeasement.  “Miss Gold just ran straight into my arms.  She was real upset and told me all about the promises the sheriff had made to her over the years.”  The dark eyes glittered with disapproval.  “You told her you were going to marry her didn’t you?”



“I never...” the sheriff spluttered. 



“You did,” exclaimed Mattie.  “You swore we were going to get married once we’d saved enough money to buy a little place somewhere.  I’ve been living hand to mouth for years; saving every penny I could to make it a reality.”



“Well, I guess you got the money to give back what you stole,” The reverend countered.



“One thing at a time,” Heyes raised a hand.  “When I met this lady she was in tears.  She’d just been unceremoniously thrown over for a younger woman after being used for years by the sheriff.”



“What’s this got to do with her stealin’ from the Education Committee?” The minister demanded.



“That’s what I was wondering,” Lom replied.  The low calm tone betrayed more than a hint of suspicion.  “And what has this to do with Kid Curry being arrested?” 



“Well, I was just in town,” Heyes slipped into his poker face.  “But I’m sure the sheriff thinking that he was about to get ten thousand dollars reward for arresting a wanted felon had a lot to do with the way he treated poor Miss Gold.”



“It certainly did,” asserted the school mistress.  “The town was abuzz with the talk of Harold bringing in the notorious gunman, and about the reward money.  I couldn’t wait to see him.  It was then that he told me the truth,” she pointed an accusing finger at her ex-lover.  “He told me that he’d been just stringing me along for years.  He had no intention of marrying me.  There was I thinking that we finally had our nest egg and more, and he was just a viper in my bosom.  I was heartbroken!”  Mattie Gold’s anguish was not of the melt-in-front-of-you, wilting-daisy kind.  It was the simmering-lava-and-brimstone variety.  “You told me that you were marrying Emily Sampson and that I was to forget you.” Her little fists tightened in fury.  “Did you really think I was going to let that little harlot sweep in and take everything from me?  The preacher’s twenty year old daughter?  She’s been around more men in town than the barber’s cape.”



“Hey!”  Sampson stepped forward with his fists raised but Kid Curry quickly stepped in the way and faced the minister down with a chilling blue glare. 



“But that’s my daughter,” he protested.



“Then you should have been watching her,” Mattie snorted.  “Your Emily suddenly found a middle-aged man attractive the moment there was ten thousand dollars in cash on the way.  Oh Harold!  Do you really think that a pretty young girl is going to be interested in a bristled old coot with a moustache like a prairie dog?” 



“You were interested,” snapped the sheriff.



“In you.  As a person!  What kind of life do you think a girl like that was going to give you?  You have nothing to talk about and nothing in common.  Once she’d spent your money she’d be out looking for the next one.”



“May I remind you that’s her father is here?” barked the minister.



“She’s got her father’s scruples,” retorted Mattie.  “I know how often you go to Miss Penny’s flesh emporium.”



“I’m spreading the word ...” the clergyman spluttered.



“Really?”  Mattie pursed her lips.  “You’ve been going there three times a week for years, and they only ones who’ve left went on to open their own places.  Is your message ‘go forth and multiply?’?”



Sampson turned puce.



“Yes, and you paid cash,” Heyes arched a suggestive brow.  “I checked.  Miss Penny might be as fond of corporal punishment the church, but she’s not as confidential.”



“What does all this have to do with her takin’ the education board’s money?”  Sheriff Peters pointed at his ex-fiancé.  “She cleared out the bank account and won’t tell us where the money is.” 



“Miss Gold, I think we need to speak in private about this matter,” Brubaker urged.



“There’s no need.  I only found out yesterday that there was an account in my name in the bank.  It had only my name on it nobody else’s.”  Mattie’s face lit up.  “It had a lot of money in it.  Eight thousand, six hundred and forty three dollars and thirteen cents, to be exact.  That is the account I closed, along with my savings account.  I only took money which was in my name and I have the paperwork to prove it.”



Brubaker frowned.  “Is this true, Mayor?  The account she closed was in her name?” 



Mayor Toomey bit in to his lip.  “It’s not that simple.”



“Yes is it,” Brubaker asserted.  “If her’s was the only name on that account, she is able to withdraw it from the bank quite legally.”



“But the money wasn’t her’s to take.  It was the property of the Education board.”



“Eight and a half thousand dollars?” Heyes smiled, mischievously.  “That’s one well supplied school.”



“I beg to differ,” sniffed Mattie.  “I supplied many things myself because the committee told me there was no money.  I’ve been living with a leaking roof for the last two years, and the few books I had were falling apart.”



“Really...”  Heyes’ pensive moué wasn’t fooling a glowering Lom, but he continued on.  “Did you open that account?”



“No.  I didn’t,” Mattie shook her head vehemently.  “The first I heard of it was when you told me about it, Mr. Smith.  I was quite shocked as you can imagine.”



Brubaker stared hard at the teacher.  “So you knew nothing about this account?  Would you swear to that, Miss Gold?”



She patted her bag.  “I’ll swear to it on my bible right now, Mr. Brubaker, and I didn’t sign anything to open it.  Nothing.”



“So who did open it?” Brubaker demanded.



“The committee thought that it might be best to have it in the teacher’s name,” murmured the mayor.  “That way she could use it as she needed equipment...”



“Or she was there to take the fall for your embezzlement,” sniped Heyes. 



“Why didn’t you tell her about this account,” asked Brubaker.



“We did. She knew it wasn’t her money,” retorted the sheriff.



Heyes folded his arms.  “I can testify that she was pretty astounded when I told her about it and I’m pretty good at reading people.”     



“Mr. Smith comforted me after I left the jailhouse where the Mr. Kid was being held.  It was him who told me everything,” her eyes narrowed as realization started to dawn.  “It was the strangest of coincidences.”



“You can say that again,” muttered Lom.



Brubaker rubbed his face.  He didn’t want to know the answer to this question, but he had to ask.  “So, there was an account in my client’s name with a whole lot of money in it, which she claims to know nothing about.  After being thrown over by him, she bumps into a complete stranger who tells her all about it.”



“Yes,” agreed Mattie agreed.



“And that stranger also happens to be the partner of the incarcerated man,” the lawyer paused.  “And he is really Hannibal Heyes.”



Mattie gasped.  “You!  You are Hannibal Heyes?”



“They’re all in it together,” yelled the Mayor. 



“A criminal,” scoffed Mattie.  “I most certainly am not!”  She glared at Heyes.  “And you can wipe that smile off your face young man.  You lied to me.”  



“I suppose I did, Miss Gold,” Heyes replied.  “My partner was in jail and I didn’t know the amnesty had come through yet.”  A warning glare from Lom made Heyes smile lightly as he continued.  “I made it my business to find out about the men holding the Kid.”  He shrugged at Lom.  “It’s not a crime.  It didn’t take me long to find out that the father of the girl who jumped straight in to make the most of the reward money was a preacher who went the local brothel more than he went to his own church.  So I got to wondering how he paid for it.”



“That’s none of your business, you hypocrite,” barked the mayor.

             

“Hypocrite?”  Heyes face shone with innocence.  “At least when the Kid and I robbed, we did it to your face.  You and your friends have been skimming money from the church, the town, the education board, and the law enforcement budget for years.  How do I know?”  Heyes’ grin broadened and his cheeks dimpled.  “Because I’ve got the real books.  You put that money in that account and used it as a slush fund with the help of a crooked bank manager, and put it all in the schoolteacher’s name in case you were caught to make her take the fall.” 



“How could you have the books?” demanded Sampson.  “They were locked up... “



“In a safe,” beamed Heyes.  “Yes.  They were.  Now, I wouldn’t ordinarily put Lom or my lawyer in a situation like this, but you are all crooks, and I’ve got the goods on you.  If the amnesty hadn’t come through you’d have had real biblical wrath rain down on you, but you got lucky.  So did the Kid on a point of law pointed out to me by Mr. Brubaker.  The amnesty came through before he escaped.  That means the jail break isn’t a crime because he wasn’t legally detained.”  



Kid Curry strode over to the door and opened it.  “There ain’t any charges you can bring here, but we thought we’d come to make sure Miss Gold was free to go to.  And as you were prepared to make her the patsy in your crime, we thought it only right that she walked away with enough money for her to be set for life.”



“You won’t get away with this, barked Mayor Toomey.  “That’s the town’s money and she isn’t leaving here until we get it back.”



“You can’t detain her,” Brubaker shook his head.  “If you try I’ll be straight on the Governor.”



“You know about this.  Ain’t there some law about a lawyer telling the truth?” Demanded the sheriff.



“We’ll, my client is owed confidentiality by me and she’s committed no crime.  If you have a civil case to pursue, that’s up to you.  As far as any other crime is concerned I’ll simply answer any questions asked of me.”


“Not if we lock you up too, it won’t,” growled the sheriff.



“Now hold on,” Lom cut in.  “The Governor of Wyoming knows we came here to clear up charges against the Kid.  He’ll send folks lookin’ for us.  My deputy in Porterville ain’t gonna just let it lie either.”



“There’s an easy way to decide.”  A determined Kid Curry stood with his feet planted firmly apart in a familiar stance which gave Lom pause.  “Any of you fellas care to try to draw against me?  I’ve got amnesty, but there’s nothing stopping me usin’ my gun to prevent a bunch of criminals takin’ the law into their own hands.”  The arctic eyes scanned the room, drinking in the fear flickering in the men’s eyes.  “I didn’t think so.  Now, if you hand over your weapons we’ll be peaceably on our way.”   



oooOOOooo



“Are you really a lawman?” Mattie demanded as they walked to the railway station.



“Sure am, Ma’am.” Lom smiled, reassuringly.  “I’m the Sheriff of Porterville.  I helped these fellas get their amnesty.  You’ll be welcome to come back there with me to decide where to head next.  I’ll make sure none of these rats come after you.”



“Thank you.  I hadn’t thought beyond jail.  And you,” Mattie prodded the brown corduroy jacket with her umbrella.  “You are Hannibal Heyes.  You used me!”



Heyes turned to face her with a smile full of bluff and contrition.  “I’m sorry.  I really am.  I just needed to get my partner out of jail.  You’ve gotta admit that sneaking the cell keys out to me, so I could pass them to the Kid was the best revenge you could get on your two-timing fiancé.  The minute he lost the reward, he lost the woman he threw you over for.”



“You, you...” she paused, groping for the mot juste.  “Devil!  That’s what you are.  It never occurred to me to break the law until I met you.  You dripped poison in my ear.  You could persuade the disciples to charge for loaves and fishes.”



“I just pointed out a few things is all,” Heyes murmured.  “You did the rest.  And you didn’t break the law.  He wasn’t wanted.  He had amnesty. ”



“If I understand the conversation in there correctly you didn’t know the amnesty had been awarded at the time, so you thought it was a proper break-out.  You played me like a puppet!”



“A puppet who’s now eight and a half thousand dollars richer,” the dimple deepened.  “And I came back to make sure you were alright.  I never leave a gang member behind.  Do I, Lom?”



“Keep me out of this,” Lom chuckled.  “He can be real convincing, Ma’am.  Don’t feel too bad.  The devil has a broken mould somewhere he’s trying to fix to make more of him.  Even folks used to dealing with criminals can get taken in.  He persuaded me to ask the Governor for amnesty.”



“They had you set up to take the fall if anyone discovered they were embezzling, Ma’am.  I wouldn’t feel too bad at beating them at their own game.”  Heyes continued down the sidewalk.



Mattie blinked at the outlaws.  “You really think that they would have done that?”



Heyes nodded.  “They put it all in your name, while drawing on it whenever they wanted with the help of a crooked bank manager.  You dodged a bullet there.”



“I still can’t figure out whether meeting you was a good or bad thing, Mr. Heyes.”



“I’ve known him all my life and I’m still tryin’ to figure out that one,” grinned the Kid.  “All I know is that how folks treat you is their problem, how you react is yours.  If I was in your shoes I’d start figurin’ out how to spend the money they gave you.  It’s legally yours.  Free and easy.”



“Yes,” Mattie murmured uneasily.  “The money...”



“You have got it haven’t you?”  Heyes frowned at the uneasiness in her face.  “Where is it?”



“I hid it.”



The ex-outlaws shared an amused glance before the Kid grinned.  “You can tell us, Miss Gold.  We ain’t gonna take it from you.  We’re goin’ straight, remember?”



“I put it in the last place the sheriff would think of looking for it,” Mattie replied, taking a smile from Lom as a reassurance.     



“Yeah?” the men shared a glance. 



Mattie was still uneasy.  “I put the money in the lining of my bible.”



A chuckle started somewhere at the back of the group, growing and spreading until Mattie joined in herself, drawn by the sparkling blue eyes of the man she found hard to believe was a gunman.  “Well, ma’am.  I guess that’s kinda apt.  Some of us get led into temptation, the rest of us find our own way, but God must love crooks.  Why else would he make so many of us?”

_________________
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Elevator Pitch or A Girl's Revenge   Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:33 am

Vengeance Be Mine

 

“Let’s see.  Two pounds flour.  Two pounds bacon.  Two pounds oats.  Pound of coffee.  Half dozen apples.  Six boxes of bullets.  Tin of gun oil.  One box rifle cartridges.  That’s everything on your list.”  The storekeeper looked up.  “Guess you boys’ll be on the trail a while.”

 

Heyes nodded.  “Yep.  Have to see about a job in Grand Tier.”

 

“That’s a good long ride from here.  This should hold you with some left over.” The merchant figured on a sheet of paper.  “That’ll be eight dollars even.”

 

Heyes pulled a wad of bills from his pocket.  “That’s highway robbery.”  He peeled eight dollars from the roll.

 

“Shipping costs are dear to get the supply wagons up the mountain.  Not like we’re near a railhead.” 

 

Kid Curry perused a book.  He held it up.  “Add this.”

 

The storekeeper said, “We just got those in.  It’ll be another twenty-five cents.”

 

“But it’s a dime novel.”

 

“It’s a dime in the flatlands.  Two bits up these parts.”

 

Curry frowned.

 

“Still want it?”

 

“Yep.  But at those prices, I won’t be buyin’ another one.”  Kid stuffed it into his jacket pocket.

 

Heyes smirked.  He laid a coin on the counter.  “A book, Thaddeus?”

 

“You’re not the only one who can read, Joshua.”

 

Heyes smiled.  “Never said you couldn’t.  Not like you to do it, though.”

 

Curry rolled his eyes.

 

As the merchant packed the supplies into two gunny sacks, Kid set aside the seven boxes of ammunition on the counter.  “These should go in a separate bag.”

 

“Sure.  Here you go.”  The storekeeper handed Curry another sack.  The Fastest Gun in the West placed the ammo in the bag, knotting it shut. 

 

Heyes grabbed the two sacks off the counter.  Nodding a goodbye to the merchant, he strode toward the door.  Kid fell in step behind him.

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

The partners rode along, Heyes taking in the high country scenery and Curry with his nose in his book. 

 

“You know, Kid, ain’t every day we’re up this high.  Nice to see some green and bristlecone instead of brown everywhere.”

 

“Hmm.”

 

“I mean, the desert’s nice but up here …”

 

“Hmm.”

 

“I think I prefer it up here this time of year – it’s a lot cooler.”

 

“Hmm.”

 

Heyes frowned.  “Kid, there’s some dust in the valley.  Must be a posse.”

 

“Hmm.”

 

Heyes trailed his horse alongside Curry and snatched the book from the blond ex-outlaw.

 

“Heyes!”

 

“Ah, finally got your attention.  Scary, but you’re reminding me of me.”  Heyes smirked.  Turning his attention to the book, he read from the cover, “The latest adventures of those two notorious outlaws, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry – all new, true, and right off the press!”  He laughed.  “Okay, what have we done this time?”

 

Curry grabbed the book back from Heyes.  “So far, robbed a train and a bank and shot up a stagecoach.”

 

Heyes grinned.  “We’ve been busy.”  He sobered.  “But, when will they get it straight.  We didn’t rob stagecoaches and didn’t shoot anybody.”

 

Kid flipped through the volume.  “Okay, here’s where I was.  It’s gettin’ strange.”

 

“How so?”

 

Curry looked at Heyes.  “A girl’s vowin’ to get revenge on us for killin’ her father.”  He focused again on the book.

 

Heyes sighed.  “See, there it is again.  We didn’t shoot anybody.”

 

“Oh, wait, she’s sayin’ he committed suicide.”  Kid looked up.  “He owned the bank we robbed.”

 

“Oh.  Which one?”

 

“Doesn’t say, and doesn’t matter.  It’s not real, remember?”

 

“Oh yeah.  Forgot, but the cover says it’s true.”  Heyes scanned the valley.  “Was just kidding about the posse.”

 

“Posse?!”  Kid Curry reached for his Colt.

 

“Nah, was just funning ya when I couldn’t get your attention.”

 

“Oh.”  Kid re-holstered the sidearm, then found his place in the book.

 

“How ‘bout reading to me?”

 

“It’s a dime novel, Heyes.  You’re always makin’ fun of me readin’ ‘em.”

 

“But it’s about us, even if they got it wrong.”

 

Curry looked at his partner.  Heyes was smiling.  “Yeah, it’s about us, but don’t expect too nice a picture.”

 

The dark-haired man said, “I want to hear about the girl getting revenge.”

 

“Okay.”  Curry started to read out loud.  “She swept the floor in the saloon …”

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

“Sweeping again?  You can eat off this floor.  Why don’t’cha let me buy you a drink?”

 

The young woman continued her task, deftly and expertly moving the broom.  Without breaking a stride, she replied, “Not again, Ham.  You know better than that.  I know the rules, and I won’t be breaking them.”

 

Ham strode from behind the bar to face the girl.  “Delia, you’re too good for this.”  He put his hand on the broom.

 

Delia pulled it back.  “I’m paid to do a job, and I aim to do it right.  You of all people, Hamilton Higgs, should know I need the money.”

 

Higgs stared at her.  “Money needn’t be a worry.  You know that, too.”

 

The young woman stopped and faced him.  “And you know I appreciate it, but I can’t …”

 

“Yes, you can.”  His voice raised slightly.  “Isn’t it time you put that dang fool notion to bed and moved on?”

 

“To what?”

 

Ham sighed.  “Delia, do I really need to say it again?”

 

“No.  I suppose not.”  She recommenced her sweeping.

 

He circled to her front and forcefully grabbed the broom.  Delia regarded him for a moment before turning.  Walking behind the bar at the far end, she positioned herself in front of a small tub of water and started washing glasses. 

 

Ham set the broom in a corner on his way to her.  He grabbed her wrist.  “These hands don’t belong in dirty water, either.”

 

Delia shook her wrist from his grasp, turned, and placed her hands on the bar.  “Then what task am I allowed to do now?”

 

He sighed.  “None.”

 

Her voice dripped controlled anger.  “So, I’m fired?”

 

“Yes.  I mean, no.”  Ham looked at the floor for a moment before turning her to face him.  “Delia, how many times do I have to ask?  Marry me.”

 

She wriggled free.  “You know I can’t.”

 

“You’ve told me you love me.”

 

She gulped.  “Yes.  I think so.  Maybe … I don’t know.”

 

He regarded her.  “Now you don’t know?  You seemed sure not so long ago.”

 

She swallowed hard.  Why was this so difficult?  Ham loved her, wanted to marry her, employed her because it was the only way she would stay.  But, it was keeping her from her real – only – ambition.  After all, here she was:  The daughter of a prominent banker.  Or, a once prominent banker.  No, a disgraced, once prominent banker.  Wait, a deceased, disgraced, once prominent banker.  Moreover, a deceased by his own hand, disgraced, once prominent banker.  They ruined him.  And her.  And they would pay.  By her solemn vow, they would pay …

 

“Delia?”

 

She blinked.  “Huh?”

 

A gruff saloon owner and gambler by trade, Hamilton Higgs had a softer side no one but Delia ever saw, save perhaps for the occasional child when he was in the mood.  He had that tone now.  “There’s that melancholy again.”  He pulled her to him.  “Let me take you away from this.  I’ll sell this place and take you to San Francisco … New Orleans … Chicago … wherever you want.  We’ll start over, just you and me.  Leave the past behind, both of us.” 

 

He beheld her.  No doubt, she was pretty, the curls cascading to below her shoulders the same brown color as his hair, albeit his was straight.  Even in the plain day dress she wore for work, she was magnificent, and deserved so much better than this.  And he knew she found him attractive; she teased him when that one dimple took over his whole countenance.  Some said they made an attractive couple – when she would allow them to be seen together; or, better yet, in those moments few and far between when she could drop that fool notion of hers, as he called it.

 

Delia sighed.  “Ham, sometimes I’d like to, but …”

 

“But, nothing!”  He withdrew the embrace and stepped back.  “Get over this, this … thing!  It takes a cold heart for revenge like that, Delia, no matter who or why.  And I know you better than that.”

 

She stared at him as he continued.

 

“We could have so much more.  Don’t let the past get in the way of happiness.  It’s not becoming!”

 

“Becoming?  Do you think I like this?  I saw them that night.  I’m sorry, Ham.  Maybe one day, but not right now.”  She walked past him, and grabbing a rag, immersed her hands back in the tub.

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

“Johnny, I’ll buy you another drink.  Just stay and hear me out.”  Delia put one hand on his forearm and signalled a bargirl with the other.

 

“Delia, I told ya once I wasn’t interested.  You’ll have to find somebody else to do your dirty work.”

 

“Keep your voice down,” Delia hissed.  Though the table in the corner where they sat was semi-private, voices carried in the quiet of a mid-afternoon.  She lightened up.  “Really, now, Johnny darling, I’ll make it worth your while.”

 

A barmaid dropped off two shots.  Delia ignored hers while Johnny pushed his away. 

 

“No one in his right mind would go up against Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.  And even if some poor fella tried, he’d be plum out of his gourd.  Besides, how would anybody even begin to find ‘em?”

 

Delia brightened.  “I’ve got it all figured out.  We’ll ride up to Devil’s Hole and find them.  With enough money, their gang’ll hand them over.”

 

“That’s your plan?” 

 

Delia nodded.

 

“Right thin, isn’t it?”  Johnny laughed heartily. 

 

The few patrons in the bar looked his way and smiled.  They might like to know the joke passing between the couple in the corner but soon returned to their own pursuits.

 

The young woman in the plain day dress spoke in an even lower tone than before.  “Stop it, Johnny.  I’m saving my money.  I’ll have enough soon to hire someone.”

 

Johnny Cray shook his head.  His light brown curly hair framed a furrowed brow.  He replied in an equally lowered voice.  “You might find some down-and-out cowboy fool enough to take them on, but the Devil’s Hole Gang ain’t gonna give up those two.  You’re just askin’ for trouble.”

 

Delia looked him in the eye.  “You keep your opinion to yourself, Johnny Cray.  One would think you’d be begging for a chance to earn some easy money what with that placer operation of yours keeping you broker than a rundown mule.  I wonder sometimes how you even eat.”

 

“Eat?  Ha!  Who needs food when rot-gut’s around?”  He grabbed the shot and threw it back.  “Ahhh, now that’s better’n honey.”  He sat back, a satisfied grin overtaking him.  “And that placer operation of mine, as you put it, is gonna be worth somethin’ real soon.  I can feel it.”

 

Delia studied him.  Still in a low tone, she said, “Whether you feel it or not, no vein in a tapped-out mine’s gonna produce twenty thousand, plus!”

 

“Twenty thousand, plus?”  Johnny narrowed one eye.

 

“Yes.  Those two are worth ten thousand apiece, plus what I’ll pay you.”

 

“Enough of this.”  Johnny started to rise.

 

“Wait.”

 

“What?”

 

Delia nodded to his chair.  He reseated himself.  “I know what they look like; probably one of the few people who do.  They could ride right down the street in front of the sheriff’s office, and he wouldn’t know wanted men were in his path.  But I would.”

 

“So?”

 

She gasped.  “So?  That’s all you can say?  What if I told you, you could probably pass for Kid Curry?”

 

Johnny shrugged.  “Where’re you goin’ with this, Delia?”

 

She winked.  “Just saying.  You get you and Ham together, and you’d be passable as Heyes and Curry.”

 

“And you know that, how?”

 

“I told you.  I was there the night they robbed my pa’s bank.  I fell asleep doing the books after hours when I heard a noise and they came in.  The door was cracked just a bit and I saw them.  It was dark, but they had a lantern.  I’ll never forget those faces.”

 

“So, from a distance, in the dark, we might pass for outlaws?  So what?”  He sighed.  “Do yourself a favor, Delia, and get over that fool notion.  Wasn’t it embarrassin’ enough for ya when ya told the sheriff those two drifters were Heyes and Curry, and you were wrong?  Never mind that other one you swore was Heyes.  That poor drummer spent, what, two nights in the jail while the sheriff got proof of who he was?  Why keep at it?  It’s been five years since your daddy’s gone.”  He rose.  “I’m right sorry for your troubles, Delia, but you’re scatter-shootin’ the moon at best.  And stop blabbin’ about this to just anyone ya come across.  Put it behind ya.  It’s time to move on.”

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

Curry paused his reading.  “Told ya this was gettin’ strange.”

 

Heyes mused, “Lots of flaws in her planning.”

 

Kid stretched.  “Who cares, Heyes.  It’s just a story, remember?”

 

Heyes grinned.  “Yeah, but even though we haven’t gotten to that part, I bet they’re saving the best planning for me.”

 

Curry rolled his eyes.  Yawning, he stretched more mightily and looked around.  “This looks like good campin’ ground.”  He dismounted.  “Gotta take care of business.”  He disappeared behind a bush.

 

Heyes kept his saddle.  “You know we’re running late.”

 

A voice came from beyond some foliage.  “I know.”

 

Heyes stretched.  “Well?”  He yawned.

 

Kid reappeared.  “Like I said, this is good campin’ ground, and you know it.  You’re just as tired as me.  The Colonel will wait on us.  He doesn’t trust anybody else.”

 

The dark-haired partner smirked.  “We can at least ride through daylight so we can get through more of the story.”

 

“We’ll camp here.  Once we get a fire started and eat, we can get back to the story.”

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

Hamilton Higgs locked the batwing doors.  Around him, bartenders and bespangled barmaids attended to various closing chores.  Making his nightly circuit, Ham went behind the bar and scooped up money from the till, dumping it into a bag.  Hitting the poker tables, he bagged coins and paper bills from the dealers.  Finally, he settled down at the corner table where Delia sat, her dress now matching the bargirls.  Together, they counted the day’s take and filled out a tally sheet.

 

“There.  Done.”  Delia yawned.  “I’m going to bed.  It’s late, and the day starts mighty early tomorrow.”

 

Ham stretched and yawned.  “It’s catching.”  He recovered and smiled.  “Help me put this in the safe?”

 

“What’s up your sleeve, Ham?”

 

“Nothing.  Just want some help is all.”

 

She nodded, too tired to beg off.

 

Carrying the tally sheet, Delia followed Ham into the office.  He arranged the piles of money on the desk and stooped in front of the safe.  She watched him deftly turn dials and open it, as she had so many times before.  Yes, he cut quite a figure in his well-cut suit and string tie.  And the way he wore that black hat made him look devilishly rakish, even dangerous.  Like Heyes?  Maybe. 

 

That night in the bank so long ago, she recalled being struck paralyzed watching from the crack in the door, quiet as a church mouse, daring not to breathe.  They worked quickly, obviously expert in their tasks – Heyes, oddly, with his ear to the safe’s door.  In all the times she had watched her father open a safe, or even Ham, she had never seen that done.  Heyes took his time, methodical and focused, while Kid Curry alternately kept attuned to the windows and doors and stood over Heyes, seeming to watch his back even though no one was around, or so they thought.  It was really all over in a few minutes.  No fuss, no muss, no time wasted.  In and out.  No whooping, no skinning out of town like a pack of banshees.  Barely any noise at all.  Cool, calm, collected, coordinated.

 

And the bank was broke.  After a posse returned empty-handed, the town blamed her father, the owner.  In the ensuing run on the bank, he was able to pay only seven cents on the dollar.  Left penniless, he rode out of town one day.  Alarmed when he did not return, Delia sent the sheriff out after him.  He returned over a horse, under a blanket.  The lawman reported it was by own hand, and offered his condolences.

 

“Delia?”

 

“Huh?”

 

Ham faced her.  He reached for her. 

 

“I’m sorry, Ham.  It’s late.”  Tears welling, she ran out the back door.

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

The sounds of the woods competed with Kid Curry’s voice for dominance.  As the light from the campfire ebbed, he paused reading.  Heyes looked up.  Together, they listened.  Cicadas and other creatures of the night reminded them they were not alone.

 

Finally, Heyes spoke.  “There’s no way we’d’ve missed her if she was there.  Wish I knew what bank they’re talking about.”

 

“Heyes …”

 

“I know, it’s just a story.”

 

“Yep.”  Curry yawned.  “Heyes?”

 

“I know, it’s late.”

 

“Yep.  And the fire’s just about out.”

 

The campfire sputtered as Heyes threw twigs into it, then larger sticks.  Finally, the flames flickered bright.  “See, we can keep going.”  Heyes stifled a yawn.    

 

Curry regarded his cousin through bleary eyes.  “You’re tired, too, and I can barely keep my eyes open.  Let’s call it a night.”

 

“Nope.  Give me the book.  I’ll read.”

 

“It’s a dime novel, Heyes, even if it cost two bits.  And you don’t like dime novels, remember?”

 

Heyes thought aloud.  “Well, most of the time, maybe.  But this one’s about us.”

 

Kid chuckled.  “There are a lot about us.”  He handed Heyes the book, indicating where he left off.  “You can read me to sleep.”

 

“You won’t be able to sleep once I start.”

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

One Saturday morning, Johnny Cray came rushing into the saloon.  Satisfied the place was empty enough, he spied Ham and nodded to the back table.  They sat.

 

“Ham, I need a favor.”  He pulled a pouch out of his pocket and emptied some of the contents onto the tabletop.  A few small nuggets and sparkly dust spilled out.

 

Higgs’ eyes grew wide.  He locked eyes with Johnny and spoke sotto voce.  “Gold?”

 

Cray replied in whisper, his eyes dancing.  “I think so.  Just knew there was life in that old mine yet.”

 

Ham asked, “What do you need?”

 

Johnny bagged the nuggets and carefully hand-swept the sparkly dust into the pouch.  Moving in closer to Higgs, he chose his words carefully, “Well, it bein’ Saturday and all, the bank and assay office are closed, and … well, it’s not like we’re real good friends or anythin’ …”

 

Ham smiled.  “Good enough friends.  You want to store that in my safe until Monday?”

 

Cray grinned.  “Yeah.  Thanks for offerin’.”

 

The men rose.  Johnny followed Higgs into the office.  As he had so many times, Ham fell to his knees and played with the dials.  Johnny stood behind and over him, watching in anticipation.  He had never been that close to a safe before.

 

Just then, broom in hand, Delia entered the office.  Standing in the threshold, she stared, mesmerized.  Blinking, she turned, then looked back.  Time stood still.  Paralyzed, she watched as the man with light brown curly hair stood over the dark-haired man opening the safe.  Memories flashed in front of her.  She blinked, and blinked, and blinked some more.  Still the flashing continued.  Her hands went to her head, then dropped to her mouth.  Was she really seeing what she was seeing?

 

Finally able to move, in a split second she reached for a rifle in a near corner.  Hearing something, the men turned around.  She fired.

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

Heyes and Curry rode in silence the next morning.  Having read all night and finished the story, they had slept late and were still tired.  Words did not come easy.

 

“Cat got your tongue, Heyes?”

 

“No.”

 

“Then why so quiet?”

 

“No reason.”

 

Curry inquired, “So you liked the story?”

 

“Not really.”

 

Kid reined his horse to a stop.

 

Heyes grumpily halted his mount as well.  “What’re you stopping for?  We’re already late for Grand Tier.”

 

“I know,” replied the blond man. 

 

“So …?”

 

“So what’s really buggin’ you, Heyes?  You couldn’t wait to finish the story and seemed to like it.  Was it that it was a dime novel and not some high-falutin story by Mark Twain?”

 

Heyes shook his head.

 

“Then what?  Somethin’s botherin’ ya.”

 

Heyes sighed.  “The girl had a really bad plan, but they didn’t let me have a better one.”

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

Days later, the partners rode into Grand Tier.  Exhausted, saddle sore, almost out of supplies – or rather, spooked by and questioning a dime novel, silly no more – they stopped for a drink at the first watering hole they came to.

 

Entering, they noticed the room seemed somber for a saloon in a decent-sized town.  A wreath bedecked a door to the rear of the room.  No games of chance beckoned.  The partners’ eyes locked, and two pairs of shoulders shrugged.  They approached the bar.

 

Toweling off glasses, the bartender asked, “Can I get you gents anything?”

 

Heyes responded, “Two beers.”

 

The barman served up two mugs.  “There ya go.  Four bits.”

 

Heyes’ eyes grew wide.  “That’s highway robbery.”

 

“Freight’s dear up these hills.  There’s no railroad nearby, so everything costs extra.”

 

The partners locked eyes again, unsettled.  What goes around, comes around:  They had heard that at the start of this journey.

 

~~oo00oo~~

 

In the saddle again, the partners walked their horses in front of the sheriff’s office.  The name on the sign was not familiar to them.  They breathed a sigh of relief.

 

As they turned the corner to approach the hotel, another side of the sheriff’s office came into view.  From a barred window, eyes followed them, staring ever wider.  A female voice yelled, “It’s Heyes and Curry!  Sheriff, it’s Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry!”

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PostSubject: Re: Elevator Pitch or A Girl's Revenge   Wed Sep 30, 2015 2:00 pm

Stepha3nie has had problems logging in but she emailed me this short piece for the challenge.  Thanks, Stepha3nie!


“The pompous moron!”


 


The uncaring landscape kept chugging past, oblivious to human thoughts.  And to this particular human, it seemed annoyingly beautiful.  After the endless prairies, some mountains had finally come into view, and sagebrush had given way to grasses as well as the occasional copse of trees, hinting at the woodlands they would soon be crossing.


 


“Such a self-important nincompoop!”


 


The train whistle interrupted her thoughts for a moment, but her mind was set to have a go and would not be shushed.


 


“How could this nephew of mine turn out like this?


 


“And after all the help I’ve already given him, establishing contacts, marrying him off to a clever woman, and giving him a leg up into politics.  Any idiot nowadays makes a career out of politics, just have a look around Washington.  But no.  He has to move to this backwater territory and still cannot accomplish to get re-elected without me by his side.  I wonder how he ever learned to walk on his own.


 


“And just now, when the season was starting to turn interesting and my latest prospect was coming along so nicely.  I’ll be missing all the noteworthy developments back home.  This is really most vexing.”


 


She opened her pouch and took out the letter which had caused her so much irritation during the last week.  By now, she knew the words by heart – she had a brain, after all – but she needed to look at the written missive again.


 


“This is the most important campaign…”, “…I stand for family values…”, “…fresh wind…”, “…clean and honest…”, “…fit for statehood…”, “…get rid of the criminal element…”, and then “…expect you here to help me…”, “…family obligation…”.


 


She could almost see him writing the letter.  The first part probably taken straight from some speech written by one of his aides.  He had even added a flyer to proudly show off his latest scheme to become more popular to the voting public.  Something about law and order.  Wyoming was still such an uncivilized place!  The rest of the missive was a part cry for help from a grown man who was still as insecure as the boy he had been and part bullying order to help out an important family member in his time of need.  If only he hadn’t added the bit about having to cut her budget if he wasn’t re-elected.  This was the bit she found most insufferable.  That she, an intelligent woman, had to rely on him, just because of old-fashioned inheritance customs.


 


Her thoughts were interrupted, when the train began to slow down.  Astonished, she looked out the window.  She knew the train schedule and was sure that they wouldn’t approach the next town for at least an hour.  Could it be another stop to fill up on water and wood?


 


“What’s this?  Why are there riders outside?  Could it be…?”


 


While she was still coming to grips with the situation, a voice could be heard from outside, towards the front of the train: “Stand and deee-liver.”


 


“Oh my.  It actually IS true.  Now, isn’t this fascinating?  It looks like this journey will prove to be more entertaining than I thought.”


 


While a brutish looking, moustachioed man herded the mostly scared-looking passengers out of the train, an excited light had come on in hers.


 


“This might be my opportunity to pay my nephew back for all the upset and inconvenience.  And it might prove to be fun for me.  And even helpful for them.  We’ll see.”
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PostSubject: Re: Elevator Pitch or A Girl's Revenge   Wed Sep 30, 2015 9:28 pm

“Jedidiah Curry!”  The teacher looked over his spectacles at the boy.  “Come here immediately!”

 

 

“But, Miss...”

 

“Don’t ‘Miss’ me.  You’ve been making Mary Strand’s life an absolute misery all week.”  She turned the girl around.  “Look at her hair!”  She held up a blonde pigtail soaked in black ink up to a depth of about six inches.  “It’s all over her pinafore.  How am I supposed to send her home like this?”

 

 

The boy dropped his head and stared down at his hand-me-down boots.  “T’wasn’t me, Miss.”

 

 

“I saw him, Miss Hunt.  I felt them bein’ pulled and I turned...”

 

 

“I saw him too, Miss,” yelled another girl who had her hand thrust in the air. 

 

“Thank you, Susan Baptise.  He sits directly behind her.  He is the only one who could have done it.”  The teacher nodded curtly before returning to glare at the boy whose pouting lip was growing.  “Why is it always you, Jed?”

 

 

“T’aint always,” he pouted.  “Ya don’t always catch me.”

 

 

“THAT is exactly what I’m talking about.  You have no boundaries.  What did you do when I caught you chasing the girls around with a catapult?”

 

 

“You put me in detention, Miss.”

 

 

“And what did I catch you doing there?”

 

 

“Whittlin, Miss.”

 

 

“Whittling what?”  Miss Hunt’s brows met until they formed a thin black score of anger. 

 

 

“Another catapult, Miss.”

 

 

“You are incorrigible.  You use to be such a good boy, but since your cousin arrived you are a nightmare.  Why can’t you be more like him?”

 

 

“Like Han, Miss?  I ain’t sneaky enough.”

 

 

The dark-haired boy in the back row frowned and folded his arms in indignation.

 

 

“Stop huffing, Hannibal Heyes.  I know what Jed means.  You stir up all the trouble he gets into.  He might fire the bullets but you load the gun.”  The schoolmarm scowled across the room at his accomplice.  “Both of you will stay behind and clean the blackboard, the floor, and clean out the stove for tomorrow.”

 

 

“But, Miss...” both boys moaned in tandem before Hannibal continued.  “We’ll catch it for our folks when we get back late.  We’ve got chores to do.”            

 

 

“You should have thought about that before you behaved so badly.”

 

 

“I never did a thing,” declared little Hannibal.

 

 

The teacher strode down the aisle, her heels clicking on the wooden floorboards as she went.  She bent at the waist, swooping down on a ball of paper lying under Jed’s desk.  “I saw you throw this at Jed, Hannibal.  Let’s see what’s on it?”  She spread it out on the flat wooden surface before holding up a crinkled sheet.  “Hmmm,” she pushed her glasses up her nose.  “Your writing, Hannibal.  I’d know it anywhere.  The artwork is what really incriminates you, though.”

 

 

She turned the document around to reveal a crude stick drawing of a girl with pigtails having them dunked in an industrial sized vat of ink.  Inscribed along the bottom of the words was the legend, “Dare ya.”

 

 

“Still want to deny that you had any part in this, Hannibal?”  She watched the dark eyes narrow and the boy bite into his lip in that particular way which made his bottom jaw seem to jut slightly.  “No?  I thought not.  You two are staying behind as punishment.  August Dutton?  Take Mary out to the pump and see how much of this you can get out of her hair.  The rest of you, take out your slates and sit up straight.  We are about to do some long division, the juniors are to practice the alphabet written on the board...”

 

 

Mary Strand allowed herself to be led from the schoolroom, turning only to thrust out her pink tongue at her tormentor.  She had her revenge, but would they ever get that black ink out of her hair?

 

 

                                                                                      ~~~     

 

 

Hannibal sat in silence separated from his younger cousin by three rows of desks.   The other children had long since left, carefully turning their chairs upside down and placing them on the desk to make cleaning easier before leaving.  Both boys scribbled away at their punishment lines, having completed their chores some time ago.  Miss Hunt sat at the front, perched on her high desk.  Her sharp eyes glanced up from her marking every now and again, but the only sound which broke the thick, heavy silence was the interminable tick of the enormous clock on the wall.  As if reading their thoughts the teacher put her pen into her stand and fixed them with a cold, hard look. 

 

 

“Have you two learned your lesson?”

 

 

Both boys laid down their slates and nodded gravely.  “Yes, Miss,” they declared in unison.

 

 

“Then you may go.”  The immediate scrapping of chair legs on wooden floorboards made her raise her voice.  “Seats on the desk, boys.  You know the rules.”

 

 

Jed nodded his tousled head and stepped back to comply with the order before running to the door as fast as his legs could carry him.  Hannibal beat him to it, wresting it open with gusto before running off down the path.

 

 

Miss Hunt followed them, walking over to the open door, but she paused at the sight of a plume of smoke growing in the distance, contaminating the bright clear summer sky with a poisonous mushroom of gloom.  A man pulled his horse to stop and jumped down, his grave expression giving her pause.   “The boys,” he stammered.  “They’re here?” 

 

 

“The boys?  You mean Hannibal and Jed?”  She nodded to the boys trotting across the school yard.  “I kept them late...”

 

 

“Well thank the good Lord for that.  They’d have been at home when it happened.”   

 

 

“What happened?”

 

 

“A border raid,” he took off his hat and ran an anxious hand through his hair.  “Most of the townsmen are there.  If’n you hadn’t kept them back, they’d have been there when it happened.  They’s have been got too…”

 

 

“Their families?  The children?”  The teacher’s face was etched with concern as she watched the man’s head merely drop in reply. 

 

“Oh, no!  What’s happening with the world?  What are we to do now?”

 

 

“The reverend wants them taken to town.  They can’t see... that.  They just can’t.  Can you call ‘em?  You’re good with kids.  You’re what they need right now…”
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PostSubject: Re: Elevator Pitch or A Girl's Revenge   Thu Oct 01, 2015 1:06 am

Appreciating Trouble



She was relaxed and wore a smile that didn't quite grace her sparkling blue eyes. Her circle of admirers all leaned forward as if each were afraid he might miss an opportunity to catch her eyes and utter her name. Her lambent wit slid deftly from topic to topic, never resting long on a single subject. She laughed and spoke often, and no one seemed to realize how little her words revealed.

Coffee-brown eyes observed her from a distant table.  A knowing smirk spread slowly between his dimples.

"Heyes." The low-voiced warning interrupted his scrutiny of the beauty in turquoise silk. "She's trouble, Heyes. The kinda trouble you and me can't afford."

Annoyed brown eyes flicked to his partner.  "Just appreciating a fellow professional at work, Kid. Nothing more."

“Just make sure that appreciatin' doesn't turn into . . .well . . . appreciatin'.”

“What?”

“You know what I mean.”

Heyes took a long pull through the foam on his beer.  His eyes slid back to the woman.  She adjusted her mahogany curls and then floated to her feet.  The silk of her bodice caressed her assets so securely that they nearly overflowed at the low cut neck. 

A sigh from Heyes drew a snort from his partner. 

“Trouble.  Nothin' but trouble,”opined the blond, while dark eyes followed turquoise silk swaying across the room and outside into the evening breeze.

“Oh, I don't know, Kid.  Seems like she's a lot more than just trouble.  But you're right.  You're right. Let's find a poker game.”

_______________


Both ex-outlaws were wearing their best suits as they played poker at one of Denver's finer gambling halls.

Heyes was winning. 

The stakes at the table increased as the pile of chips in front of him grew.  Though the Kid was still playing, his attention was as much on his partner, his chips, and those watching the game as on his own hand.  He asked the dealer for two.

“Fold,” he said placing the cards face-down on the table. 

The betting continued until Heyes raked in another pot.  Curry's smile for his partner wilted at the sight of emerald green satin and mahogany curls.  The stunning woman from the previous evening was back.  Curry watched her piercing blue eyes assess the room in a manner Curry found all too familiar.  He observed her catching sight of both him and his partner.  She snagged his eyes and offered him a seductive smile.  He pushed his chair back from the table.

“Deal me out, fellas.”

Heyes asked a question with his eyebrows. 

Blue eyes flicked to Heyes' mound of chips.  “Takin' a break and gettin' a whiskey,” was Curry's terse reply.

The dark-haired man shrugged and then sat up straighter as last night's vision approached the Kid's now empty chair. 

“Would you gentleman mind having a lady join your table?”  Her voice dripped southern honey. 

“Yould be right welcome, ma'am,” offered an older man with bushy sideburns, “but I need to warn you that the buy-in at this table is five hundred dollars.  You might be more comfortable where the stakes are recreational.”

Heyes caught her eye and didn't try to hide the smirk.  Her return smile was knowing. 

She reached into her small bag and removed five crisp one hundred dollar bills.  At the sight of the money, a casino employee hurried over and exchanged the lady's bills for chips.  She arranged her satin dress as she sat.  Removing white gloves, a finger at a time, she smiled sweetly at the dealer. 

“What are we playing, gentleman?”

_______________


“Call,” demanded Heyes. 

Watching from the bar, Curry could see the faces of both the woman and his partner.  Heyes expression was bland.  He had last money since the woman had joined the table, but he was still up by over a thousand dollars for the night.  The woman, she gave her name as Vivian, was ahead by a few hundred. 

“Certainly, Mr. Smith.”  She laid down a full house, blue eyes sparkling beneath her shiny curls.

Heyes raised an eyebrow and inclined his head to his petite adversary.  “Well played, ma'am.  I would have sworn you were bluffing.” 

She smiled back and began collecting her chips.  “Thank y'all for the diversion, but it's getting late.  I'll be saying good night.”

Heyes quickly collected his chips and stood.  “I think I will call it a night as well. May I escort you to cash in your chips, Miss . . . ?”

“Vivian will do fine, Mr. Smith.”

“Then you must call me Joshua,” he replied with a dimpled grin, ignoring his partner's frown.  He offered his arm, and the touch of her white hand sent a shiver up his spine.  Curry followed at a discrete distance.

They cashed in the chips, and Vivian stowed her money in her bag.
 
“May I buy you some dessert or a glass of wine before you leave?” Heyes asked with a hopeful smile.

“I would love to, Mr. Smith, I mean Joshua, but unfortunately I have an appointment.  In fact I stayed at the table longer than I should have.  I'm afraid that I'm already late.  But thank you kindly for the offer.”

She started to pull away, but he held her hand as it slid from his arm. 

“You are carrying a fair amount of money, Vivian.  Let me escort you and make sure you--and it--arrive safely.”

Her laugh was light and musical.  “I'm in no danger, sir,” she drawled, squeezing his arm.  Before he could object further, she whirled away, moving quickly down the hallway and out a side door. 

While Heyes watched her retreating back, Curry joined him.

“Trouble, Heyes. I'm tellin' ya, she's trouble.”


_______________



Heyes double checked the lock on their door.  Curry flopped on the bed lacing his fingers behind his neck.

“It was a lovely thing to watch, Kid.  She's a real pro,” he continued their earlier conversation.  “Smooth as silk.  No cheating either.  She's a real first class poker player. 

“Trouble, Heyes.  She's trouble.”

“And she sure knows how to distract a table full of men.  She bats the lashes of those baby-blues and smiles just the right amount.  The men are so busy falling over each other for her attention that they don't even realize that she could fleece 'em all.  It's a fine thing to watch.”

“What about you, Heyes?”

“What about me?

“What does her smile and eyelash battin' do to you?  Seems that you start losin' every time she joins your table.   And in case you haven't noticed, it's always your table she's joinin'.  I think she's got some kinda special interest in you.”

Heyes' grin was wide and wicked.  “Course she does.  But a gentleman doesn't talk about a lady that way.”

Curry snorted.  “Ladies don't spend all their evenin's in a gamblin' parlor, and they sure don't play poker like that woman does.”

“Vivian's just the right amount of lady for me.”

“She don't even let you buy her a drink.  Every night when she's done playing, she runs off.”  Blue eyes met brown. “Where's she goin'?”

Heyes frowned.  “She won't say.  Just claims to be late to an appointment.”  He plopped in an armchair and thumped his hat on a table.  “But I'm wearing her down, Kid.  You just wait.  I'll have her on my arm for dinner any night now.”

“Has she told you anything about herself?”

“No, she's real quiet about her past.  But we don't confide in folks either.”

“That's right, Heyes, and we got good reasons for keepin' still.  Could be trouble if she got reasons to keep quiet, too.” 

“How much trouble could someone that small and pretty possibly be?”

“I don't know, Heyes.  How much trouble can Clem cause?”

Curry chuckled at the frown furrowing his partner's brow. 

“I'll be careful, Kid.  I've handled dangerous women before.  Remember Blanche?”

“Sure. But you never really liked Blanche.”

“I can handle myself with Vivian Jackson as well.”

Curry snorted.

Heyes glared, but didn't argue.

“This Vivian is gettin' under your skin.  I can tell. So be careful.”


_______________



The next night her gown was the same brilliant blue as her eyes.   The sleeves began below her shoulders revealing more of her creamy white skin than Heyes had yet seen.  She choose an empty seat next to him at the poker table.  He schooled his face to blandness, but a visible swallow betrayed his reaction.  A bare upturn of her mouth and a single cocked eyebrow let Heyes know that she had seen her effect on him.  Curry caught his partner's eyes, and shook his head, but his warning was ignored.

Heyes was playing well.  After several hours he had nearly twelve thousand dollars in chips.  Vivian was playing conservatively.  Heyes had kept her in sherry, and she seemed content with her modest pile of chips. 

Though stingy with her bets, she was generous with her smiles.  While most of the men at the table sought her attention, she only had eyes for the dark-haired man next to her. Curry watched the game from a nearby bar stool.  He observed Vivian with an expression he usually reserved for a venomous snake. 

Heyes folded his cards when he felt the feather light touch of a woman's hand resting on the top of his thigh.  He glanced at the beauty next to him and squeezed her hand before he shoved his chair away from the table.  Collecting his chips, he announced  “I am done for the evening, gentlemen.”  He glanced down at the blue-eyed woman. “Vivian, could I persuade you to join me for a late supper?”

“I would be honored, Joshua.”

After cashing in their chips, the couple sauntered toward the dining room.  Kid Curry waited in a hallway near the restaurant. 

Heyes held up two fingers and mouthed the word “two” to the maitre 'd.  “Please seat the lady, and I will be right back.  I'll join you in a minute, Vivian.”  He enjoyed watching the sway of her blue skirts before joining the Kid.

“What is it?”

“Just wondering how much cash you're plannin' to keep on ya if you end up appreciatin' Miss Vivian into the evenin'.”

Heyes' look was rueful.  “You have a point there, Kid.”  He reached into his suit pocket and removed his wallet.  After staring at the bills for a few seconds, he discreetly handed a stack of them to his blond partner.  Curry stowed the money inside his own jacket pocket.

“Heyes,” he whispered.  “I don't trust that woman.  She's too smart.  She too good at poker, and way too good at manipulatin' men.  Be careful.”

“Don't worry, I can handle myself.  Besides she's such a little thing, what's the worst she could do?”

“Call in the law and hand you over for ten thousand dollars.” 

Heyes scowled. 

“She wouldn't be the first woman to manage it.”

“She'd need to know who I am to do that, Kid.  And besides Grace caught you.  Not me.”  Without looking back, Heyes turned on his heel and headed for his table.



_______________




The strike of a match tickled the consciousness of a sleeping Hannibal Heyes.  The light from the Denver street lamps filtering through the curtains was augmented by the flickering of a freshly lit oil lamp.  The distinctive sound of a revolver being cocked startled him fully awake.  Heyes froze, assessing the situation with only his ears and eyes.  Sliding his eyes up and to the side, he saw that his holster was still hanging from the bed frame, but it was empty. 

“I'm very accurate with a revolver, Mr. Heyes.  And mine is pointed straight at your heart.”  Vivian's low voice was steady and calm, but stripped of all traces of her southern accent.

“You've made a mistake, Vivian.  My name is Joshua Smith.  If you're after the money I won, you are welcome to it.  My wallet is still in my coat jacket.” 

“You have a little over a thousand dollars in your wallet, Mr. Heyes.  You're welcome to keep that. I am after much bigger denominations.  And I have made no mistake.  You are Hannibal Heyes and your sandy haired friend is the infamous gunman, Kid Curry.”

“Vivian, you're wrong.  I'm Joshua Smith and my friend is Thaddeus Jones.  And I never would have pegged you for a common thief.”

“I'm not a thief, Mr. Heyes,” she retorted with some heat.  “At least not usually.  But you and your partner owe me, and I plan to get my own back.”

“Even if we were those two notorious outlaws, how would we owe you?  Vivian, I never met you until last week.”

“True.  But do you remember Chester Powers?”

“The dirty banker in Red Gap?”

“Dirty?  That's rich coming from you.  But, yes, Chester was the banker in Red Gap before you ruined him.  We were engaged.  That man was my ticket to respectability, and you put him behind bars.  I think twenty thousand dollars should compensate me for the loss of a rich fiance.”

“Why are you so sure that I'm Hannibal Heyes?”

“Because Chester pointed the two of you out to me.  You can drop the facade.  I know who you are.”

“Why would a woman as smart and beautiful as you agree to marry Chester Powers?” Heyes asked with a grimace.

Heyes scooted into a sitting position. The sheet fell away, revealing his bare chest. 

Vivian laughed.  “There are many reasons to spend time with a man, Mr. Heyes.  You are attractive, smart, dangerous, and charming.  I have enjoyed my time with you very much indeed.  Chester was powerful, cunning, and rich.  He offered me respectability.  I make a decent living in the gambling halls, but one day my looks will go, and things will get harder.  Chester promised me travel and leisure.  I wanted that.”  She studied the man in her bed.  “Don't try anything.  I really am very good with this weapon.”

“I don't doubt it, Vivian.  I suspect you are good at anything you put your mind to.”

“Where's the rest of your money, Mr. Heyes?”

“Why should I tell you?”

“Because if you pay me more than you're worth if I turn you in, I might not tell the law about you.”

“Why would you do that?  If you turn us in, you can get our cash and the reward.”

“Are you really that anxious to spend the rest of your life in prison?”  She stood up and reached behind her.  The gun never wavered.  “Far too many people saw you win nearly thirty thousand dollars.  The law will want to know where the money went.  If you pay me twenty-five thousand, I won't bother with the reward.”

“So all I have to do is give you twenty-five thousand dollars, and you'll let us go without contacting the law.  Why will you leave us with over three thousand dollars?”

Her grin was naughty and knowing.  “Let's just say that I enjoyed your company, Mr. Heyes.”  She threw a bundle of brown clothing at his head.  “Now get dressed and out of my bed.  Play time is over.”


_______________




Kid Curry was awakened by a familiar pattern tapped on the door.  He grabbed his colt, just in case, and eased open the door.  A disheveled Hannibal Heyes pushed into the room, closely followed by a familiar figure with reddish-brown curls. 

“Put the gun down, Kid.  She's got a revolver buried in my side, and she knows who we are.”

“Ah Heyes, I warned ya she was trouble.”

“Drop the gun, Mr. Curry.” Vivian's eyes matched the blue ice of the Kid's.  He complied.  “Now kick it out of  reach.  Under the bed, if you please.” 

Curry frowned, but did as she instructed. 

“Now, Mr. Heyes.  My money?”

“Give her twenty-five thousand dollars, Kid.”

“What?  That's our South America money, Heyes.”

“Well, now it's our stay outta jail money.  Get it.”

The blond strode angrily to the dresser and picked up his grey suit jacket.

“Wait, Mr. Curry.  Toss the jacket at my feet.”  He did as she instructed.  She fished out the wallet and handed it to Heyes.  “Count out my twenty-five thousand, Mr. Heyes.”

He did as she asked.

“Now, Mr. Heyes please take these thongs and tie Mr. Curry to that chair.”



_______________



Once both ex-outlaws were securely tied the woman they knew as Vivian Johnson gagged them securely with bandannas. 

“Now gentleman, just in case you're thinking about trying to find me, there is something you should know.  I left a letter with a police captain who likes to gamble and finds me attractive.  It tells him that if he comes to this room in this hotel, he will find Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.  He shouldn't receive the letter,” she consulted a pocket watch, “for about an hour.”

She smiled sweetly as she checked their bonds one more time.  “So, once you have wriggled free, you have a choice.  You can try to find me, or you can leave before the Denver law finds you.  I would advise you to hurry. This is one time when running late could cost you dearly.”

She looked at down at Heyes with a fire smoldering in her eyes.  “I  really do hope you get away.  Seeing you like this gives a girl all kinds of ideas.”

_________________
When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come.
- Leonardo DaVinci
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PostSubject: Re: Elevator Pitch or A Girl's Revenge   Thu Oct 01, 2015 3:57 am

A Girl’s Revenge


“Get away from her!” cried Isabelle. Yet another argument had erupted between her mother and her stepfather, this time over the morning breakfast table. Isabelle watched in horror as he brutally kicked her kneeling mother while she cleaned up the meal he had angrily thrown on the floor. She quickly ran to her, blocking any further attack with her own body. Her stepfather scowled, motioning as if he might strike Isabelle as well. Seeing the girl’s defiant glare, he reconsidered, and lowered his arm.


“I’m going to the office,” the coward lamely announced. “There better be a decent supper on the table when I get home.” The door slammed behind him, and he was gone.


Isabelle couldn’t stand to see the look of shame on her mother’s face, or the hurt in her eyes. This time he left her on the floor like an old rag doll, clutching her abdomen in pain. Isabelle cradled her, soothing and rocking her, until the pain subsided. Finally, Mother slowly rose, and wiped the tears from Isabelle’s eyes.


“We’ll be gone before he gets home tonight,” she announced calmly. The chance he might turn on her daughter had become all too real. Mother had been willing to put up with a lot to insure they had a roof over their heads, but a line had been crossed. Something within her snapped, and she was done.


Relief swept over Isabelle. “I’m ready, Mother. But we can’t go without your jewelry. It’s all we have.” She was only a twelve, but had already become practical by necessity.


“Leave it, dear, he’ll never give it to us. It’s in his safe at the office and he never gave me the combination.”


“We’ll report him,” Isabelle pleaded. “They’ll make him give it to us.”


Mother sighed and patiently reasoned with her young daughter. “Who will we report him to? He’s the Sheriff, and after what happened in town this week, everyone thinks he’s a hero.”


“But Mother, he hurts you.” Isabelle tried to think of someone more important than the Sheriff. “We can tell the Mayor.”


“The Mayor’s the one that hired him, Isabelle, they’re friends. No one will listen to us.” She gently took Isabelle by the chin and looked directly in her eyes, trying to help her understand the unjust ways of the world. “No one.”


“It’s not fair! I’m not leaving without my real Daddy’s ring!”


Mother straightened herself. “That’s enough, Isabelle. The most important thing is to get safely away from here. The stage leaves in just a few hours, and we’ll be on it. Now be a good girl, and help me pack.”  


Isabelle wanted to obey, but wasn’t about to let that hateful man have what was rightfully theirs. Determined and clever, Isabelle had a plan.


“I’ll be back soon, Mother. Don’t worry!” She bolted out the door before Mother could stop her.


“Isabelle!” Mother cried, but her daughter was already gone. 


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


The Sheriff took another sip of his coffee, spreading out the latest edition of the town paper across his desk. He glanced at his prisoners, chuckling with satisfaction; the front page report of their newsworthy arrest was proving to be an interesting read.“With great risk of bodily harm,”  the journalist had penned, “our brave Sheriff courageously led the noble posse in dangerous pursuit of the notorious outlaws, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry.”


“…..courageously led the noble posse,” he repeated out loud to himself, enjoying the sound of it. 


“Startin’ to believe your own lies, Sheriff?” The battered and bruised prisoner was lying on his cot, glaring at his captor as he flashed a mirthless grin.


“Shut up, Heyes, or I’ll go another round with your partner.” The Sheriff had tried to quiet Heyes earlier with his fist, to no avail. The only thing that seemed to mute the silver tongued heckler was to hurt the Kid, a task he’d been more than happy to perform. He eyed the blond outlaw, whose arm was in a sling from the flesh wound he was proud to have put there.


With another sip of coffee, he returned to reading his paper.


“The Sheriff has promised to generously split the $10,000 reward, $5,000 for each outlaw, with the members of his posse.” Again, he chuckled, glancing over at the safe full of reward money. How convenient for the railroad to have dispersed the funds so quickly. He would share it alright, as a payoff to keep his men from telling what really happened during the so called “dangerous pursuit”. 


The report continued: “Accolades arrive daily from all over the country, expressing admiration for the Sheriff’s courage. Rather than risk the lives of his men, the Sheriff ordered them to stand down. He alone made the arrest, taking out the shooting arm of the notorious gunman, Kid Curry, who relentlessly showered them with bullets.”


He shook his head in amusement. The fact the two outlaws never resisted arrest or fired a shot was nobody’s business. He would divide the money as soon as each posse member went on record, confirming his version of the story. Yep, he would come out of this a hero alright, even if he had to lie and cheat to do it.


He folded his paper with a satisfied sigh. The new job offers he had received were just the beginning. No doubt his friend the Mayor would present him with the key to the town in a suitably dignified ceremony. He might even go into politics and get himself elected to office. Best of all, he would be rich, and powerful, and…...rich.


“Papa?” He looked up from his paper to find Isabelle standing in the door.


“What’re you doin’ here,” he growled. “I told you to never bother me at the office.” This brat was nothing but a thorn in his side; he didn’t like the way she glared at him every time he taught his stupid wife a lesson.


“I’m sorry, Papa, but Mother sent me.” She smiled sweetly, trying to soothe him like the snake he was. “You missed breakfast, so she sent me to watch the office while you went to the cafe.”


“I ain’t leavin’ these two with the likes of you, now get out’a here.” She was right, he could use a meal, but he didn’t want to chance leaving his two important prisoners with nothing but a slip of a girl.


“Yes, sir. Do you want me to run get Deputy Wilkes to spell you? You must be gettin’ real hungry by now.” She knew her stepfather was rarely ruled by reason, and would likely succumb to his stomach, even if she was only moderately persuasive.


“You know as well as I do he’s at home with a broken leg.” The Sheriff scowled as his belly chose that moment to growl, long and loud.


“Yes, sir,” she eyed him innocently. “Mrs. Burnes made fried chicken today, with mashed potatoes and gravy, and biscuits with fresh churned butter. Oh, and hot apple pie right out ‘a the oven. I could fetch you a plate, but if you go to the cafe, it’s all you can eat. Too bad you’re missin’ out on all that good food.” She slowly turned as if to go.


“All you can eat? Wait.” The girl was right, it was a long time until supper, and all this talk of food was getting the best of him.  He wouldn’t be gone long. Heyes and Curry were locked down tight as a drum, and even this stupid brat couldn’t screw things up for him now.


He nodded towards his desk. “You sit here. If there’s trouble, all you gotta’ do is wave out the door, I’ll watch from across the street through the cafe window. Don’t say a word to 'em. They’re tricky bastards, and they’ll kill ya if ya give ‘em a chance.” He figured it didn’t hurt to put some healthy fear in her.  


“Yes, sir.”


The Sheriff grabbed his hat and sauntered out the door.


Isabelle knew she didn’t have much time. Before he died, her real Daddy had taught her how to shoot, and she knew where the Sheriff kept his extra gun. She pulled it out from the bottom drawer, made sure it was loaded, and without a word pointed it at the two outlaws.


The Kid nudged his partner, who looked over in surprise. They both sat up and slowly raised their hands. 


Heyes gave her his most disarming smile. “Now, Isabelle, you don’t want to point that shooter at us. Your father was wrong about us being killers. Why, me and the Kid wouldn’t hurt a fly. Ain’t that right, Kid?” 


The Kid just nodded, never taking his eyes off her gun.


“He ain’t my father,” she quickly corrected him, “And I won’t shoot as long as you help me.”


Heyes tried to keep his voice smooth and congenial. “Alright, Isabelle, you’ve got our attention. But we’d feel a whole lot better if you’d put the gun down so we can talk easier. Would that be alright?” 


Isabelle ignored him. “You’re hurt. Did he do that to you?” Both men appeared to have been on the wrong end of the Sheriff’s brutal fist. The purple bruises and cuts, and the swollen, black eyes were all too familiar. She and her mother clearly shared a common enemy with these men.


“Yeah, and if that gun goes off we’ll be in a lot more hurt than we already are. Put it down, Isabelle. Please.” The Kid locked his blue eyes with hers and she slowly set the gun on the desk.


“How do you do it?” Heyes hissed at his partner. The Kid had a way with the ladies, young and old alike. 


“It’s a gift.” The Kid shrugged and smiled at Isabelle.


Isabelle continued to size up the two young men, trying to decide how much she could trust them. They weren’t anything like the hardened outlaws she expected. Even though the Sheriff had left his mark on them, their faces were still kind. She looked at them with hopeful eyes.


“You said you wanted help, Isabelle?” Heyes gently tried to coax an explanation from her.


“Yes.” she said, with a small voice. “My stepfather, the Sheriff, does…. that,” nodding to their bruises, “to my mother”. A tear rolled down her cheek, despite her attempt at a strong front.  “We’re runnin' away. We need your help, and I think you need mine.”


The partners looked at each other, disgusted. It was one thing to be an outlaw, but a wife beater was as cowardly and low down as a man could get. They finished their silent conversation, and looked back at Isabelle with sympathy.


“We get the picture.” The Kid’s blue eyes radiated concern.


Heyes took a step towards the brave little girl. “We’d like to help, Isabelle, but we can’t do much from behind these bars.” 


Heyes watched as Isabelle took a deep breath and determinedly reached for the keys hanging on a nearby hook. “I’ll let you both out, Mr. Heyes, if you’ll open the safe. All I want is my mother’s jewelry. I’ve got two of the Sheriff’s best horses waiting for you out back. Do we have a deal?”


“Deal”, said Heyes. He looked across the room at his old friend, the Brooker 110, and smiled.


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


“You never cease to amaze me, Heyes.” The partners had put plenty of distance between themselves and the Sheriff, and slowed their pace to give their horses a breather.


“Yeah?”


“Yeah. I can’t believe you gave Isabelle half the reward money. If you ain’t careful, the boys back at the Hole will think you’ve gone soft.”


“Kid, the way I see it, as soon as we partnered up with Isabelle, we owed her a cut of whatever we found in that safe. Anyway, what the boys don’t know won’t hurt ‘em.” Heyes had a smug smile firmly planted on his face. The Sheriff had been humiliated, Isabelle and her mother got away with a healthy stake, and he and the Kid were $5,000 richer.


The blond outlaw looked at him knowingly. “You sure it don’t have nothin’ to do with helpin’ the needy folk?” 


“Nope. Just good business, Kid, plain and simple. It’s purely coincidental she happened to be needy.”


“Uh huh.” Kid grinned at the small mythology his partner was creating to justify such bald faced generosity. 


“Ain’t you worried Isabelle will get blamed?” The thought of Isabelle being charged as an accomplice quickly wiped the smile from the Kid's face.


“Nah, the Sheriff won’t want folks to know he was stupid enough to go fill his pie hole, while he left a little girl alone with two dangerous outlaws.” Heyes grinned at his partner. “He’s probably glad she’s gone so he can leave her out of the story entirely.”


“Yeah.”


They rode a few more minutes in comfortable silence. It was a beautiful Wyoming day, not too warm, with a pleasant breeze. They weren’t far from the Hole, and the Kid’s mind wandered to the good meal that was likely waiting for them. Heyes, on the other hand, was deep in thought, already planning the particulars of another robbery.


“Our next job needs to be a sure thing, Kid. Somethin’ fast and easy that’ll keep the boys happy, while I come up with a bigger plan.”


The Kid was all ears. “You got somethin' in mind?”


“Of course.” The outlaw leader relished talking through his schemes with his partner. “First, we need to find a sleepy little town with a bank that has an old, outdated safe and a big payroll delivery.”


“Yeah.” 


“Then we need to make sure the Sheriff is fat and lazy, and spends his days nappin’ at his desk.”


“Whatever you say, Heyes.” The Kid thought for a moment. “Just as long as we stay clear of that last Sheriff. He was a piece ‘a work if I ever saw one.” 


“Yeah, that won’t be too hard.” Heyes nodded congenially. “There ain’t a chance in hell we’ll forget a name like Clitterhouse.” 


“I hope you’re right, Heyes, I hope you’re right.”

_________________
"If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning." Mae West
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